Six uncapped players named in the All Blacks squad for Ireland series
TJ Perenara and Brad Weber were notable omissions, but whom are widely expected to be named in the Maori All Blacks squad.
After losing Joe Moody to a season-ending knee injury, further cover was needed up front and uncapped Chiefs prop Aidan Ross has been drafted in to take one of seven prop selections. Ross joins the three Blues props Nepo Laulala, Ofa Tuungafasi, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Chiefs teammate Angus Ta’avao and Crusader George Bower.
Chiefs loose forward Pita Gus Sowakula beat out the likes of Luke Jacobson to secure selection in the crowded backrow alongside captain Sam Cane, Dalton Papalii, Ardie Savea, Hoskins Sotutu and Akira Ioane.
Blues fullback Stephen Perofeta has been named as one of three first five-eighths alongside the star pair of Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga, while Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was the only newcomer to the midfield stocks.
Jack Goodhue returns to the squad following his long injury layoff to provide experience to the midfield group also comprising of David Havili, Rieko Ioane and Quinn Tupaea.
Of the six new selections, versatility has been a theme with Perofeta offering cover at first five and fullback, Sowakula at blindside and No 8 while Fainga’anuku can play centre as well as wing.
The other notable omissions are Highlanders prop Ethan de Groot, Alex Hodgman of the Blues, Braydon Ennor and George Bridge of the Crusaders, Hurricanes front row pair Tyrel Lomax and Asafo Aumua, and flanker Shannon Frizell all whom played for the All Blacks last year.
Ethan Blackadder and Anton Lienert-Brown were ruled out of contention with injuries.
The reduction in squad size was expected as Ian Foster made it clear that the expanded squad last year was to manage quarantine regulations when travelling to cover potential injuries.
New selections: Aidan Ross (Chiefs), Folau Fakatava (Highlanders), Pita Gus Sowakula (Chiefs), Stephen Perofeta (Blues), Leicester Fainga’anuku (Crusaders)
Dane Coles (Hurricanes, Wellington)
Codie Taylor (Crusaders, Canterbury)
Samisoni Taukei’aho (Chiefs, Waikato)
Aidan Ross* (Chiefs, Bay of Plenty)
George Bower (Crusaders, Otago)
Nepo Laulala (Blues, Counties Manukau)
Ofa Tuungafasi (Blues, Northland)
Karl Tu’inukuafe (Blues, North Harbour)
Angus Ta’avao (Chiefs, Auckland)
Samuel Whitelock (Crusaders, Canterbury)
Brodie Retallick (Chiefs, Hawkes Bay)
Scott Barrett (Crusaders, Taranaki)
Josh Lord (Chiefs, Taranaki)
Tupou Vaa’i (Chiefs, Taranaki)
Pita Gus Sowakula* (Chiefs, Taranaki)
Sam Cane (Chiefs, Bay of Plenty)
Dalton Papalii (Blues, Counties Manukau)
Ardie Savea (Hurricanes, Wellington)
Akira Ioane (Blues, Auckland)
Hoskins Sotutu (Blues, Counties Manukau)
Folau Fakatava* (Highlanders, Hawkes Bay)
Aaron Smith (Highlanders, Manawatu)
Finlay Christie (Blues, Tasman)
Stephen Perofeta* (Blues, Taranaki)
Beauden Barrett (Blues, Taranaki)
Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders, Canterbury)
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck* (Blues, Auckland)
Quinn Tupaea (Chiefs, Waikato)
Jack Goodhue (Crusaders, Northland)
Rieko Ioane (Blues, Auckland)
David Havili (Crusaders, Tasman)
Leicester Fainga’anuku* (Crusaders, Tasman)
Jordie Barrett (Hurricanes, Taranaki)
Will Jordan (Crusaders, Tasman)
Caleb Clarke (Blues, Auckland)
Sevu Reece (Crusaders, Tasman)
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